Know your Islands: Butterflies are free to fly

The anglewings, brush-footed
butterflies or Nymphalidae is a family of about 5,000 species of butterflies.

These are typically large
butterflies, such as the emperor, admirals, and fritillaries which have very colourful
wings.

However, the underwings are dull
and often look like dead leaves, which allow the butterfly to disappear or
camouflage into its surroundings.

The front two legs are small, so
effectively these butterflies are four legged.

The caterpillars are hairy or spiky
and the chrysalids have shiny spots.

A few of the butterflies in this
family call Cayman home, these include the Cuban Red, Mexican Fritillary, and
the Mangrove Buckeye.

 

The Cuban Red

Anaea cubana

The Cuban Red is a bright red
butterfly that seems to disappear as it sits completely still with its wings
folded.

This fast flying butterfly has
become more common around Grand Cayman and is hard to miss as it flies by. It
prefers wooded areas, but it may also be found in your garden.

No need to worry about it
depositing eggs in your garden; its caterpillars prefer meals of Rosemary.

 

The Mexican Fritillary

Euptoieta hegesia

The Mexican Fritillary has the
sharply angled wing margins and very similar forewing and underside patterns.

The basal half of the hindwing
upperside is clear orange, with the typical black fritillary markings
restricted to a band around the margin.

This South and Central American
species ranges north through Mexico into southern Texas and remarkably as far
north as southern Manitoba.

The larva is bright red with dorsal
and lateral black-edged silver lines and six rows of black spines.

The butterflies prefer to live in
open areas such as fields, forest edges and near open streams. Adult
butterflies eat flower nectar, such as passion flowers. 

Adults fly swiftly above low
vegetation during the day light hours in search of food. Females lay one egg at
a time on host plants.

 

The Mangrove Buckeye

Junonia evarete

The Mangrove Buck-eye has a brown
upper-side and the forewing has a narrow orange band which rings the large
eyespot.

The Underside of the hindwing is
brown, usually without bands or eyespots.

The caterpillars eat leaves of
mangrove trees, and these beautiful butterflies may be seen in tidal flats and
visiting their favourite black mangroves.

The range of the Mangrove Buckeye
extends from the Atlantic coast of Mexico north to South Texas, the West Indies
and extreme southern Florida.

 

Protect Cayman trees and encourage
Cayman Wildlife! For more information, to share your knowledge or if you would
like to get involved with the many activities in the National Trust’s Know Your
Islands Program, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.ky or contact
[email protected] or 949-0121.

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Cuban Red
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